Afghanistan releases preliminary presidential vote count

Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah listens during an interview at his residence in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, April 24, 2014.
Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah listens during an interview at his residence in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, April 24, 2014.
Afghanistan announces the preliminary results of its landmark presidential election, as the former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah emerges on top but not with enough votes to avoid a run-off poll.

The chairman of the Independent Election Commission, Ahmad Yousuf Nouristani, said on Saturday that Abdullah had 44.9 percent of the vote and ex-Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai came in second with 31.5 percent. The preliminary results are due to be finalized on May 14 after completion of probes into fraud complaints.

Electoral law requires a runoff between the top two candidates if no one candidate gets a majority. A runoff should be held within 15 days of final results.

Nearly seven million Afghans went to the polls on April 5 to choose a successor to outgoing President Hamid Karzai. It will be the country's first democratic transfer of presidential power.

The election was held amid tight security in 6,000 polling stations across Afghanistan, following threats from the Taliban militants, who had pledged to disrupt the polling process.

RA/MB